Women: there is an epidemic, a plague, a LIE we’ve been buying into, and it’s robbing us of our happiness.

We’re told if we’re “good”, if we do “the right things”, if we “follow the rules” that we’ll be happy/successful/have it all. Ugh. That’s a lot of air quotes in a small amount of space. And that’s how we can tell that it’s all bullshit.

We’re told that a partner, a home (decked out in Martha Stewarty goodness), 2.5 children and a white picket fence is the recipe for happiness. But what happens to all of the women who don’t want those things? Or the ones that do, but for some reason it’s just not working out for them? Or the ones who have it, and it doesn’t feel like quite enough? Are they doomed to miserable lives?? Of course not.

So what then, is the recipe for happiness?

I believe, that it’s living a truly authentic life, on our own terms. But what does that even look like? It means that we live fully expressed – we surround ourselves with people who love the mosaic of our personality, not just one shallow piece, so we can be exactly who we are, without pretense, without masks. It means finding work that FEELS good, that lights us up, that aligns to our values, and our needs. We spend a third of our days at work, and we deserve to contribute in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re playing dress up or make believe. That’s the stuff of crazy making, imposter syndrome building, and square-peg-in-a-round-holing. No bueno. It means speaking our truth, even when our voice is shaking, even when we’re scared of the outcome. Because denying our feelings, playing small, and pretending to be something we’re not helps no one. And it feels hella gross to do day in and day out.

In the middle of an argument, someone I know said “You talk so much about being authentic, but you keep making the same mistakes.” Authenticity is not perfection. Mistakes will happen. Living authentically means you own them, you tell the truth, and your words and your actions align. And when they don’t, you fix that.

How does this concept of living authentically apply to your business?

Living authentically, means living aligned. It’s a way of carrying yourself, day to day, where the things you do feel good, fully expressed, like you don’t have to hold back. If you and your brand are not aligned, it’s going to feel really hard to have that same enthusiasm and passion. Let me give you some examples…

How many times have you driven by a hospital’s emergency doors, only to see a handful of doctors, in their lab coats, smoking? If you were their patient, would you trust them to give you the best advice on health and wellness? The same goes for the 6-figure coaches you see on social media who are promoting this glamorous lifestyle, while racking up shit-tons of debt. When your actions, and your words don’t align, people can feel it. They may not be able to put their finger on it, but they can tell that something’s not quite right.

On the other side of the spectrum, last year I had a woman contact me about doing branding for her organic, artisanal beef business. I expressed concern as I’m mostly vegetarian… to my surprise, she was a vegan. Her belief was that the market would always ask for beef, so she wanted to create an experience for her cattle that gave them the absolute best life possible before they met their end. She found a way to operate a business that would’ve otherwise gone against her very core (but be very lucrative), in a way that gave her the ability to sleep at night.

Just because it used to work, doesn’t mean it does now.

When I meet people on the brink of a rebrand, they struggle with what to do next. Is it worth sitting through the discomfort? Maybe they’ll fall back in love with their business, so is it work the energy/time/hassle to start from scratch? The people they used to work with — it’s not jiving anymore. They don’t want to pay the new prices, or buy the new programs, because the work is no longer aligned. But it used to, so what changed?

We all change.

Our brands are like a living, breathing, being that we carry along with us. It grows and evolves as we do. So while a brand may be “perfectly functional” (and by that I mean, you’ve already got the graphics, the logo, the business cards printed and they look professional), if it isn’t working, it isn’t bringing in the right people, it doesn’t feel good, and you start having website shame — it’s time to make a change. Much in the way children outgrow clothes that are perfectly useable and in good condition, so too can we outgrow our brands. And it’s actually a GREAT thing. It means we’re evolving, our businesses are evolving, and we’re getting closer and closer to living that truly authentic life, in every sense of the word.